Classic History Books

William Wood - The Winning of Canada: A Chronicle of Wolfe

workmanship. This, with a salmon-rod from my uncle
Wat, your flies, and my own guns, put me in a condition

to undertake the Highland sport. We have plays, we

have concerts, we have balls, with dinners and suppers

of the most execrable food upon earth, and wine that

approaches to poison. The men of Glasgow drink till

they are excessively drunk. The ladies are cold to

everything but a bagpipe - I wrong them - there is not

one that does not melt away at the sound of money.'

By the end of this year, however, he had left Scotland for good. He did not like the country as he saw it.
But the times were greatly against his doing so. Glasgow was not at all a pleasant place in those narrowly

provincial days for any one who had seen much of the world. The Highlands were as bad. They were full

of angry Jacobites, who could never forgive the redcoats for defeating Prince Charlie. Yet Wolfe was not

against the Scots as a whole; and we must never forget that he was the first to recommend the raising of

those Highland regiments which have fought so nobly in every British war since the mighty one in which

he fell.

During the next year and part of the year following, 1754-55, Wolfe was at Exeter, where the
entertainments seem to have been more to his taste than those at Glasgow. A lady who knew him well at

this time wrote: 'He was generally ambitious to gain a tall, graceful woman to be his partner, as well as a

good dancer. He seemed emulous to display every kind of virtue and gallantry that would render him


In 1755 the Seven Years' Peace was coming to an end in Europe. The shadow of the Seven Years' War
was already falling darkly across the prospect in America. Though Wolfe did not leave for the front till

1757, he was constantly receiving orders to be ready, first for one place and then for another. So early as

February 18, 1755, he wrote to his mother what he then thought might be a farewell letter. It is full of the

great war; but personal affairs of the deeper kind were by no means forgotten. 'The success of our fleet in

the beginning of the war is of the utmost importance.' 'It will be sufficient comfort to you both to reflect

that the Power which has hitherto preserved me may, if it be His pleasure, continue to do so. If not, it is

but a few days more or less, and those who perish in their duty and the service of their country die


The end of this letter is in a lighter vein. But it is no less characteristic: it is all about his dogs. 'You are to
have Flurry instead of Romp. The two puppies I must desire you to keep a little longer. I can't part with

either of them, but must find good and secure quarters for them as well as for my friend Caesar, who has

great merit and much good humour. I have given Sancho to Lord Howe, so that I am reduced to two

spaniels and one pointer.' It is strange that in the many books about dogs which mention the great men

who have been fond of them - and most great men are fond of dogs - not one says a word about Wolfe.

Yet 'my friend Caesar, who has great merit and much good humour,' deserves to be remembered with his

kind master just as much, in his way, as that other Caesar, the friend of Edward VII, who followed his

master to the grave among the kings and princes of a mourning world.



Wolfe's Quebec campaign marked the supreme crisis of the greatest war the British Empire ever waged:
the war, indeed, that made the Empire. To get a good, clear view of anything so vast, so complex, and so


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